Now that the teacher strike in Newton, Massachusetts, is over, students are back in school, but the cost of the strike is still being calculated, and not only is the city seeking damages, a family is too.
Lital Asher-Dotan has three children in Newton Public Schools, and while she is thrilled they are back in class, she said is not happy about the financial toll the two-week strike took on her and other families.
“People had thousands of dollars paid to drive their kids around, paying for day care, for camps and for babysitting,” Asher-Dotan said.
After hearing a judge talk about the impact to students during a hearing about the strike on Friday, Asher-Dotan filed a motion this week arguing families should be able to seek damages just like the city.
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“The family damages are 10 times more if not 100 times more, so we definitely want to be heard,” Asher-Dotan said.
She has yet to get a hearing date for her motion. Her goal, she said, is to get more parents to sign on and get a judge to rule in their favor, which would set a precedent that she said would deter future strikes.
“There has to be consequences for illegal strikes,” Asher-Dotan said.
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Michael Ziles, the president of the Newton Teacher’s Association, said he does not think the motion will go anywhere.
“If a judge ordered us to, we’d have to, but I don’t think we will. I don’t think they have standing in court,” Ziles said.
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Ziles said the union will end up having to pay at least $600,000 in court-ordered fines, but he hopes families will see the strike was worth it.
“I don’t think you can put a price tag on the benefit-analysis of this, but in the long run, the benefits will far outweigh the costs. The benefits for students and families will be enormous,” Ziles said.
Everyone in Newton is hoping they do not end up in the same position in Andover. Its school committee is now considering laying off 36 school employees after the teacher strike there last year.
The Andover Education Association is organizing at protest at Thursday’s school committee meeting.
“Ultimately it’s just retaliation for educators standing up for what’s right and the community supporting them,” the vice-president of the Andover Education Association said.
Newton’s mayor has said their plan is financially stable and will not lead to layoffs.
In recent teacher strikes in Andover, Haverhill, Woburn and Malden, individual teachers unions paid at least $50,000 each to the Massachusetts General Fund, according to state records.
In Fiscal Year 2023, the Haverhill Teachers Association paid $110,000, the Woburn Teachers Association paid $85,000 and the Malden Teachers Association paid $50,000. This fiscal year, the Andover Teachers Association paid $50,000.
NBC10 Investigator Ryan Kath contributed to this report.